Paul Millard of the CLA writes . . .
I was at a meeting this week where the state of rural roads and lanes was described as managed retreat.
What is causing concern are reports that some suppliers and contractors are sending out letters to farmers warning them that they will not be able to continue to deliver or collect unless improvements are made to the access roads. The problem, of course, is that it is frequently not the farmer who owns the road, it is the highway authority.
Those of us who travel these minor roads frequently have been shaken, rattled and banged; seen our tyres shredded and smart alloy rims dented beyond repair where the rains and frosts have lifted or damaged tarmac. But it’s no use shouting at the highway authority and insisting that more cash is directed towards road repair – because there isn’t any more cash.
Additional money spent on road repairs has to be found from another budget – so while Peter gets a smoother ride home, Paul might find his library has been closed.
There is no escaping the fact that the sorry state of our roads is – or will – affect the ability of businesses based in the countryside to deliver economic success.
The CLA wants to move this debate forward, but we realise that asking for more cash is simply not an option.
The reality is that we need to arrive at a point where those who need and use the road are able to step in and either take on responsibility for repairs or work with the highway authority to ensure that the road is passable. The alternative is to sit back and watch viable businesses disappear because of our deteriorating rural roads – and that would be unforgiveable.